Jim Morrison’s Bookshelf

“Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of reality. I was curious to see what would happen. That’s all it was: just curiosity.” —Jim Morrison, Los Angeles, 1969

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 
[1916] James Joyce
“Welcome, O life, I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”

A Season in Hell [1873] Arthur Rimbaud
“Once, I remember well, my life was a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed.”

Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me [1966] Richard Farina
“I’ve been on a voyage, old sport, a kind of quest, I’ve seen fire and pestilence, symptoms of a great disease. I’m exempt.”

Beyond Good and Evil [1886] Friedrich Nietzsche
“Independence is an issue that concerns very few people: — it is a prerogative of the strong. And even when somebody has every right to be independent, if he attempts such a thing without having to do so, he proves that he is probably not only strong, but brave to the point of madness. He enters a labyrinth, he multiplies by a thousand the dangers already inherent in the very act of living, not the least of which is the fact that no one with eyes will see how and where he gets lost and lonely and is torn limb from limb by some cave-Minotaur of conscience. And assuming a man like this is destroyed, it is an event so far from human comprehension that people do not feel it or feel for him: — and he cannot go back again! He cannot go back to their pity again!”

The Birth of Tragedy from the Sprit of Music [1872] Friedrich Nietzsche
“Even under the influence of the narcotic draught, of which songs of all primitive men and peoples speak, or with the potent coming of spring that penetrates all nature with joy, these Dionysian emotions awake, and as they grow in intensity everything subjective vanishes into complete self-forgetfulness. In the German Middle Ages, too, singing and dancing crowds, ever increasing in number, whirled themselves from place to place under this same Dionysian impulse . . . There are some who, from obtuseness or lack of experience, turn away from such phenomena as from ‘folk-diseases,’ with contempt of pity born of consciousness of their own ‘healthy-mindedness.’ But of course such poor wretches have no idea how corpselike and ghostly their so-called ‘healthy-mindedness’ looks when the glowing life of Dionysian revelers roars past them.”

Crowds and Power [1960] Elias Canetti
“There is nothing that man fears more than the touch of the unknown. He wants to see what is reaching towards him, and to be able to recognize or at least classify it. Man always tends to avoid physical contact with anything strange.”

The Dharma Bums [1958] Jack Kerouac
“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.”

Diaries of Franz Kafka, 1914-1923 [1965] Franz Kafka
“I can prove at any time that may education tried to make another person out of me than the one I became. It is for the harm, therefore, that my educators could have done me in accordance with their intentions that I reproach them; I demand from their hands the person I now am, and since they cannot give him to me, I make of my reproach and laughter a drumbeat sounding in the world beyond.”

The Doors of Perception [1954] Aldous Huxley
“The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.”

The Fall [1956] Albert Camus
“Do not wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day.”

The Flowers of Evil [1857] Charles Baudelaire
“O man, dear disinherited! to you I sing
This song full of light and brotherhood
From my prison of glass with its scarlet wax seals.”

Howl [1956] Allen Ginsberg
“I saw the best minds of my generation
destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for
an angry fix
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to
the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night.”

Journey to the End of the Night [1932] Louis-Ferdinand Celine
“The worst part is wondering how you’ll find the strength tomorrow to go on doing what you did today and have been doing for much too long, where you’ll find the strength for all that stupid running around, those projects that come to nothing, those attempts to escape from crushing necessity, which always founder and serve only to convince you one more time that destiny is implacable, that every night will find you down and out, crushed by the dread of more sordid and insecure tomorrows. And maybe it’s treacherous old age coming on, threatening the worst. Not much music left inside us for life to dance to. Our youth has gone to the ends of the earth to die in the silence of the truth. And where, I ask you, can a man escape to, when he hasn’t enough madness left inside him? The truth is an endless death agony. The truth is death. You have to choose: death or lies. I’ve never been able to kill myself.”

Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History[1959] Norman O. Brown
“History is shaped, beyond our conscious wills, not by the cunning of Reason but by the cunning of Desire.”

The Lonely Crowd [1950] David Riesman
“The idea that men are created free and equal is both true and misleading: men are created different; they lose their social freedom and their individual autonomy in seeking to become like each other.”

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell [1790-93] William Blake
“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”

The Metamorphosis [1915] Franz Kafka
“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous insect.”

Naked Lunch [1959] William S. Burroughs
“America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil before the settlers, before the Indians. The evil is there waiting.”

On the Genealogy of Morality [1887] Friedrich Nietzsche
“While every noble morality develops from a triumphant affirmation of itself, slave morality from the outset says No to what is ‘outside,’ what is ‘different,’ what is ‘not itself’; and this No is its creative deed.”

On the Road [1957] Jack Kerouac
“I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the made ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”

The Outsider [1956] Colin Wilson
“The exploration of oneself is usually also an exploration of the world at large, of other writers, a process of comparison with oneself with others, discoveries of kinships, gradual illumination of one’s own potentialities.”

The Plague [1947] Albert Camus
“The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. There can be no true goodness, nor true love, without the utmost clear-sightedness.”

The Stranger [1942] Albert Camus
“I, too, felt ready to start life all over again. It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.”

The Teachings of Don Juan [1968] Carlos Castaneda
“To seek freedom is the only driving force I know. Freedom to fly off into that infinity out there. Freedom to dissolve; to lift off; to be like the flame of a candle, which, in spite of being up against the light of a billion stars, remains intact, because it never pretended to be more than what it is: a mere candle.”

The Theatre and Its Double [1938] Antonin Artaud
“The theater, which is in no thing, but makes use of everything—gestures, sounds, words, screams, light, darkness—rediscovers itself at precisely the point where the mind requires a language to express its manifestations . . . To break through language in order to touch life is to create or recreate the theatre.”

Thus Spoke Zarathustra [1885] Friedrich Nietzsche
“I would believe only in a god who could dance.”

The Town and the City [1950] Jack Kerouac
“He saw that all the struggles of life were incessant, laborious, painful, that nothing was done quickly, without labor, that it had to undergo a thousand fondlings, revisings, moldings, addings, removings, graftings, tearings, correctings, smoothings, rebuildings, reconsiderings, nailings, tackings, chippings, hammerings, hoistings, connectings—all the poor fumbling uncertain incompletions of human endeavor. They went on forever and were forever incomplete, far from perfect, refined, or smooth, full of terrible memories of failure and fears of failure, yet, in the way of things, something noble, complete, and shining in the end. This he could sense even from the old house they lived in, with its solidly built walls and floors that held together like rock: some man, possibly an angry pessimistic man, had built the house long ago, but the house stood, and his anger and pessimism and irritable laborious sweats were forgotten; the house stood, and other men lived in it and were sheltered well in it.”

Ulysses [1922] James Joyce
“It soared, a bird, it held its flight, a swift pure cry, soar silver orb it leaped serene, speeding, sustained, to come, don’t spin it out too long long breath he breath long life, soaring high, high resplendent, aflame, crowned, high in the effulgence symbolistic, high, of the ethereal bosom, high, of the high vast irradiation everywhere all soaring all around about the all, the endlessnessnessness . . .”

Crisafulli, Chuck. When the Music’s Over. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2000.
Hopkins, Jerry, and Sugerman, Danny. No One Here Gets Out Alive. New York: Warner Books, 1980.
Opsasnick, Mark. The Lizard King was Here: The Life and Times of Jim Morrison in Alexandria, Virginia. Bloomington: Xlibris Corporation, 2006.
Riordan, James, and Prochnicky, Jerry. Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison. New York: Harper, 2006.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu